For over 35 years, Kapena has entertained audiences with their signature harmonies and feel-good island music. Beginning as a trio in 1984 with Kelly Boy DeLima and the Tatofi brothers, the band has now blossomed into a family band featuring frontman De Lima’s three children – Kapena, Kalena, Lilo, and son-in-law Kala’e Parish. Their stellar performance last Saturday at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel had the crowd on their feet cheering “Chee hoo!” while dancing and singing along to practically every song.
Kapena’s outdoor concert was presented by the Kahilu Theatre, and it was their first where the audience wasn’t required to wear masks.
There were many highlights during the evening, and each band member took turns soloing or singing an original. About midway, Kelly Boy invited his wife Leolani to the stage to sing “Shells” from their award-winning 2017 album Palena Ole. “I got tired of musicians not showing up for practice, so we gave birth to new band members!” joked DeLima. “As we raised our children in the music business, Leolani was the ‘glue’ that kept it all together for us. Everyone wants to credit the dad, but that’s a total façade. It was my beautiful wife who kept it together.”
Kala’e Parish performed “Island Life” and “Magic” from his EP Where I Reside. The Big Island-born musician is a finalist in this year’s Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in the EP of the Year category. Kapena, Kelly Boy’s son, sang “Ka Wailele `O Nu`uanu,” a touching song that pays tribute to Nuʻuanu Valley on Oahu. Kelly Boy took the spotlight with some fierce fretwork on “Masese,” and pushed his custom super tenor `ukulele to the max, just like a rockstar.
Kapena ended the evening with the upbeat crowd favorite “Reggae Train,” and followed it with “Hawaiʻi Aloha.” Some held hands (a return to a tradition) while singing the revered anthem of the Native Hawaiian people.
Kapena is keeping busy with numerous projects like the Kapena School of Music which is having a grand opening Sunday, June 27 at the Windward Mall on Oahu. “We are excited to offer weekly private and group lessons, as well as monthly workshops, master classes, and kanikapila jam sessions,” said Kalena, who is also president of Kapena School of Music. “My dad is nearing 40 years in the music industry and so I took it as our opportunity to turn around and say thank you to the community who has kept Kapena in the business for all this time. This is our next step in the journey.”
With a vast catalog and decades of music to pick from, Kelly Boy recommends starting with Kapena 30, a two-disc compilation. “We brought back the Tatofi brothers along with my kids and recorded a sold-out show at the Waikiki Shell,” DeLima said in our interview.
If you missed Kapena’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel concert, it’s available for annual subscribers to stream on Kahilu TV.
Notes & Links
We Are a Voice | Guava Jelly | I Am a Queen | Shells | Island Life | Ka Wailele `O Nu`uanu | Masese | Never Gonna Give You Up | Magic |
Reggae Train | Hawaiʻi Aloha
Kapena: Kelly “Kelly Boy” DeLima (vocals, ukulele), Kapena DeLima (drums/keyboards/vocals), Kalena DeLima (keyboards/vocals), Lilo DeLima (bass/vocals), and Kala’e Parish (guitar/vocals).
Concert Date: 20/June/2021
Steve Roby is a music journalist, bestselling author, and editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
All photos: Steve Roby